Sun | Apr 30, 2017

Charles Albert’s Jewelled Journey

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AMKrysta Anderson

They say life is too short to be wearing boring jewellery, and Charles Albert has made it his lifelong mission to provide fashionable and fascinating jewellery collections that are definitely not boring.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania in the United States, Albert always fascinated by stones, and became an avid stone collector. Little did he know that this hobby would become a stepping stone for even greater gems.

The young entrepreneur confessed that when he graduated from college, he was not sure which direction to go, so when a jewellery business opportunity fell into his lap, he began pursuing it and the rest is history.

"When I started I knew absolutely nothing about fashion and accessories. I learned through trial and error," he told Outlook. "I try to find out what my customers are looking for and offer my interpretation and feel for market demands. Many of my designs have classic appeal and are timeless. I try not to follow the trends, but be at the forefront of what is next, and what will last," he ended.

When Albert started he company in the 90s, he did it with only $60. "I met a fashion jewellery manufacturer, and I bought five dozen earrings at $1 a pair, went into a store which bought them for $2 a pair and then bought more jewellery. The business grew, I started looking for ways to sell more to my clients since I was tired of seeing the sale of old designs everywhere I went." This brought about the decision for him to create his own pieces with his very own vision.

Their pieces are all hand-crafted by skilled artisans who meticulously create each piece, step by step. The looks are classic, yet modern, garnering much of its inspiration from the beach, so it was only natural that he would tap in to the Jamaican market. "Our pieces are very popular in the Caribbean. Both tourists and locals love the high quality and hand-made beauty in every piece of jewellery we create. Almost every piece is unique, given the unpredictable nature of each of the stones, shells and beach glass that we use. So, if other tropical paradises are an indicator of what is to come, we expect to see great success in Jamaica."

But it was not an easy road for this jewellery mogul who has had his fair share of obstacles along the way. He experienced a big hike in the price of silver in 2012, and this negatively affected production as he was a silver jewellery designer and manufacturer. So he and his team went back to the drawing board and came up with a blend of base metals that looked liked gold, "Within months of product development, we came up with our "Zero Karat Gold" line, Alchemia. It was an immediate success, and we had trouble keeping it in stock. It looks like 18 Karat gold, it is lead and nickel free, hypo-allergenic and will not tarnish. It opened new markets and customers to us and continues to be extremely popular today," he explained.

On his road to success, he has been motivated by his father who taught him to work with his mind and try not to limit himself with what he could do with his hands, "I worked in his auto body shop during the summers while growing up, so I learned about deconstructing and rebuilding damaged cars. This helped give me an understanding of seeing a problem and working it through to the end." He also made note of Toni Di Blasi, who owned a pizzeria at Chapman Lake, Pennsylvannia, where he worked. "He would always tell me how successful I would be and how he knew I was going places. I loved the way he treated me, and everyone else around him. He taught me that you could be successful and be the nicest guy in town."

It brings Albert great joy to have his wonderful hardworking and dedicated staff who continually strive to bring the company to the next level. He also has about 50 of the greatest silversmith in Mexico, who work tirelessly to create a very high quality line for them, "For me, it is very fulfilling to have so many people, whose livelihood is a direct result of what we have done as a company."

He attributes the success to his hardworking balance between work and family life to his lovely wife, whom he is blessed to have and who works with him every day. "Most days, she works harder than I do, I am pretty sure. We get to work and play together. She gets to travel with me on many occasions and we have been fortunate to have a business that has allowed us to see the world together. We have travelled to China, Thailand, India, South Africa, and many other places. We always try cool things, see the sights and enjoy the local cuisine wherever we go," he said.

When he is out and travelling, it gives him a great sense of validation when he sees people wearing his jewellery. The hundreds of celebrities who have worn his pieces include Lady Gaga, J Lo, Kesha, Nikki Minaj, Demi Lavato, among many others.

His advice to upcoming entrepreneurs is to do what you love, work hard and never listen to those people who say you will never make it, "When things were tough for me, I delivered pizzas, I sold copy machines, I did whatever it took to make it work. When you want to be the best at anything you do, it is never easy. You have to want it bad enough and never quit. Most people who never fulfilled their dreams and goals, gave up too soon. If you want it, take it and make it your own."

Now you can own a piece of Charles Albert's Collection now available at Just for Feet, Orchid Village, 20 Barbican Road, Kingston 6. Tel: 970-3483.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com